You are on page 1of 74

Acid-Base Balance Interactive Tutorial

Emily Phillips MSN 621 Spring 2009 E-mail: All images imported from Microsoft Clipart & Yahoo Image gallery

How to navigate this tutorial:

To advance to the next slide click on the

box To return to the previous slide click on the box To return to the Main Menu: click the box Hover over underlined text for a definition/explanation To return to the last slide viewed click on the button Click the for additional information

Define acid base balance/imbalance

Explain the pathophysiology of organs

involved in acid base balance/imbalance Identify normal/abnormal and compensated/uncompensated lab values Explain symptoms related to acid base imbalances and compensated vs. uncompensated Appropriate interventions and expected outcomes

Main Menu:
Acid-Base Pretest The Buffer Systems

Acid-Base Review test

Metabolic Distubances

Respiratory Disturbances

Acid-Base Compensation

Diagnostic Lab Values

ABG Interpretation & Case Studies

Acid-Base Pretest:
What is the normal

range for arterial blood pH?

7.38 7.46

7.40 7.52

7.35 7.45

Acid-Base Pretest:
What 2 extracellular substances work together

to regulate pH?
Sodium bicarbonate & carbonic acid

Carbonic acid & bicarbonate

Acetic acid & carbonic acid

Acid-Base Pretest:
Characterize an acid & a base based on the

choices below.
Acids release hydrogen (H+) ions & bases accept H+ ions.

Acids accept H+ ions & bases release H+ ions

Both acids & bases can release & accept H+ ions

Acid-Base Pretest:
Buffering is a normal body mechanism

that occurs rapidly in response to acidbase disturbances in order to prevent changes in what?



Acid-Base Pretest:
What are the two systems in the body that

work to regulate pH in acid-base balance & which one works fastest?

The Respiratory & Renal systems Renal

The Respiratory & Renal systems Respiratory

The Renal & GI systems Renal

Acid-Base Balance:
Homeostasis of bodily fluids at a normal

arterial blood pH pH is regulated by extracellular carbonic acid (H2CO3) and bicarbonate (HCO3-) Acids are molecules that release hydrogen ions (H+) A base is a molecule that accepts or combines with H+ ions

Acids and Bases can be strong or weak:

A strong acid or base is one that

dissociates completely in a solution - HCl, NaOH, and H2SO4

A weak acid or base is one that

dissociates partially in a solution -H2CO3, C3H6O3, and CH2O

The Body and pH:

Homeostasis of pH is controlled through
Protein Buffer system

HCO3Buffer system

K+ - H+ Exchange

extracellular & intracellular buffering systems Respiratory: eliminate CO2 Renal: conserve HCO3- and eliminate H+ ions Electrolytes: composition of extracellular (ECF) & intracellular fluids (ICF) - ECF is maintained at 7.40

Quick Review: Click the Boxes

A donator of H+ ions An Acid is: w/ pH <7.0 Regulated by EC pH is: H2CO3 & HCO3 Eliminates CO2
Respiratory System:

An acceptor of H+ A Base is: ions w/ pH >7.0 Controlled by EC pH is: & IC buffer systems Conserves HCO3Renal System: Eliminates H+ ions

Respiratory Control Mechanisms:

Works within minutes to control pH; maximal in

12-24 hours Only about 50-75% effective in returning pH to normal Excess CO2 & H+ in the blood act directly on respiratory centers in the brain CO2 readily crosses blood-brain barrier reacting w/ H2O to form H2CO3 H2CO3 splits into H+ & HCO3- & the H+ stimulates an increase or decrease in respirations

Renal Control Mechanisms:

Dont work as fast as the respiratory

system; function for days to restore pH to, or close to, normal Regulate pH through excreting acidic or alkaline urine; excreting excess H+ & regenerating or reabsorbing HCO3 Excreting acidic urine decreases acid in the EC fluid & excreting alkaline urine removes base H+ elimination
& HCO3conservation

Mechanisms of Acid-Base Balance:

The ratio of HCO3- base to the volatile H2CO3
Phosphate Buffer system

Ammonia Buffer system

determines pH Concentrations of volatile H2CO3 are regulated by changing the rate & depth of respiration Plasma concentration of HCO3- is regulated by the kidneys via 2 processes: reabsorption of filtered HCO3- & generation of new HCO3-, or elimination of H+ buffered by tubular systems to maintain a luminal pH of at least 4.5

Acid-Base Balance Review test:

The kidneys regulate pH by excreting

HCO3- and retaining or regenerating H+



Acid-Base Review test:

H2CO3 splits into HCO3- & H+ & it is the

H+ that stimulates either an increase or decrease in the rate & depth of respirations.


Acid-Base Review test:

Plasma concentration of HCO3- is

controlled by the kidneys through reabsorption/regeneration of HCO3-, or elimination of buffered H+ via the tubular systems.


Acid-Base Review test:

The ratio of H+ to HCO3- determines



Acid-Base Review test:

Secreted H+ couples with filtered HCO3-

& CO2 & H2O result.



Metabolic Disturbances:
Alkalosis: elevated HCO3- (>26 mEq/L)

Causes include: Cl- depletion (vomiting, prolonged nasogastric suctioning), Cushings syndrome, K+ deficiency, massive blood transfusions, ingestion of antacids, etc. Causes include: DKA, shock, sepsis, renal failure, diarrhea, salicylates (aspirin), etc.

Acidosis: decreased HCO3- (<22 mEq/L)

Compensation is respiratory-related

Metabolic Alkalosis:
Caused by an increase in pH (>7.45)

related to an excess in plasma HCO3

Caused by a loss of H+ ions, net gain in HCO3- , or loss of Cl- ions in excess of HCO3-

Most HCO3- comes from CO2 produced

during metabolic processes, reabsorption of filtered HCO3-, or generation of new HCO3- by the kidneys Proximal tubule reabsorbs 99.9% of filtered HCO3-; excess is excreted in urine

Metabolic Alkalosis Manifestations:

Signs & symptoms (s/sx) of volume

depletion or hypokalemia Compensatory hypoventilation, hypoxemia & respiratory acidosis Neurological s/sx may include mental confusion, hyperactive reflexes, tetany and carpopedal spasm Severe alkalosis (>7.55) causes respiratory failure, dysrhthmias, seizures & coma

Treatment of Metabolic Alkalosis:

Correct the cause of the imbalance

May include KCl supplementation for K+/Cldeficits

Fluid replacement with 0.9 normal saline

or 0.45 normal saline for s/sx of volume depletion Intubation & mechanical ventilation may be required in the presence of respiratory failure

Metabolic Acidosis:
Primary deficit in base HCO3- (<22

mEq/L) and pH (<7.35) Caused by 1 of 4 mechanisms

Increase in nonvolatile metabolic acids, decreased acid secretion by kidneys, excessive loss of HCO3-, or an increase in Cl-

Metabolic acids increase w/ an

accumulation of lactic acid, overproduction of ketoacids, or drug/chemical anion ingestion

Metabolic Acidosis Manifestations:

Hyperventialtion (to reduce CO2 levels),

& dyspnea Complaints of weakness, fatigue, general malaise, or a dull headache Pts may also have anorexia, N/V, & abdominal pain If the acidosis progresses, stupor, coma & LOC may decline Skin is often warm & flush related to sympathetic stimulation

Treatment of Metabolic Acidosis:

Treat the condition that first caused the

imbalance NaHCO3 infusion for HCO3- <22mEq/L Restoration of fluids and treatment of electrolyte imbalances Administration of supplemental O2 or mechanical ventilation should the respiratory system begin to fail

Quick Metabolic Review:

Metabolic disturbances indicate an

excess/deficit in HCO3- (<22mEq/L or >26mEq/L Reabsorption of filtered HCO3- & generation of new HCO3- occurs in the kidneys Respiratory system is the compensatory mechanism ALWAYS treat the primary disturbance

Respiratory Disturbances:
Alkalosis: low PaCO2 (<35 mmHg)

Caused by HYPERventilation of any etiology (hypoxemia, anxiety, PE, pulmonary edema, pregnancy, excessive ventilation w/ mechanical ventilator, etc.)
Caused by HYPOventilation of any etiology (sleep apnea, oversedation, head trauma, drug overdose, pneumothorax, etc.)

Acidosis: elevated PaCO2 (>45 mmHg)

Compensation is metabolic-related

Respiratory Alkalosis:
Characterized by an initial decrease in

plasma PaCO2 (<35 mmHg) or hypocapnia Produces elevation of pH (>7.45) w/ a subsequent decrease in HCO3- (<22 mEq/L) Caused by hyperventilation or RR in excess of what is necessary to maintain normal PaCO2 levels

Respiratory Alkalosis Manifestations:

S/sx are associated w/ hyperexcitiability

of the nervous system & decreases in cerebral blood flow Increases protein binding of EC Ca+, reducing ionized Ca+ levels causing neuromuscular excitability Lightheadedness, dizziness, tingling, numbness of fingers & toes, dyspnea, air hunger, palpitations & panic may result

Treatment of Respiratory Alkalosis:

Always treat the underlying/initial cause
Supplemental O2 or mechanical

ventilation may be required Pts may require reassurance, rebreathing into a paper bag (for hyperventilation) during symptomatic attacks, & attention/treatment of psychological stresses.

Respiratory Acidosis:
Occurs w/ impairment in alveolar

ventilation causing increased PaCO2 (>45 mmHg), or hypercapnia, along w/ decreased pH (<7.35) Associated w/ rapid rise in arterial PaCO2 w/ minimal increase in HCO3- & large decreases in pH Causes include decreased respiratory drive, lung disease, or disorders of CW/respiratory muscles

Respiratory Acidosis Manifestations:

Elevated CO2 levels cause cerebral

vasodilation resulting in HA, blurred vision, irritability, muscle twitching & psychological disturbances If acidosis is prolonged & severe, increased CSF pressure & papilledema may result Impaired LOC, lethargy/coma, paralysis of extremities, warm/flushed skin, weakness & tachycardia may also result

Treatment of Respiratory Acidosis:

Treatment is directed toward improving

ventilation; mechanical ventilation may be necessary Treat the underlying cause

Drug OD, lung disease, chest trauma/injury, weakness of respiratory muscles, airway obstruction, etc.

Eliminate excess CO2

Quick Respiratory Review:

Caused by either low or elevated PaCO2

levels (<35 or >45mmHg) Watch for HYPOventilation or HYPERventilation; mechanical ventilation may be required Kidneys will compensate by conserving HCO3- & H+ REMEMBER to treat the primary disturbance/underlying cause of the imbalance

Compensatory Mechanisms:
Adjust the pH toward a more normal

level w/ out correcting the underlying cause Respiratory compensation by increasing/decreasing ventilation is rapid, but the stimulus is lost as pH returns toward normal Kidney compensation by conservation of HCO3- & H+ is more efficient, but takes longer to recruit

Metabolic Compensation:
Results in pulmonary compensation

beginning rapidly but taking time to become maximal Compensation for Metabolic Alkalosis:

HYPOventilation (limited by degree of rise in PaCO2) HYPERventilation to decrease PaCO2 Begins in 1-2hrs, maximal in 12-24 hrs

Compensation for Metabolic Acidosis:

Respiratory Compensation:
Results in renal compensation which

takes days to become maximal Compensation for Respiratory Alkalosis:

Kidneys excrete HCO3Kidneys excrete more acid Kidneys increase HCO3- reabsorption

Compensation for Respiratory Acidosis:


Normal Arterial Blood Gas (ABG) Lab Values:

Arterial pH: 7.35 7.45
HCO3-: 22 26 mEq/L PaCO2: 35 45 mmHg

TCO2: 23 27 mmol/L
PaO2: 80 100 mmHg SaO2: 95% or greater (pulse ox)

Base Excess: -2 to +2
Anion Gap: 7 14

Acid-Base pH and HCO3 Arterial pH of ECF is 7.40

Acidemia: blood pH < 7.35 (increase in H+) Alkalemia: blood pH >7.45 (decrease in H+) If HCO3- levels are the primary disturbance, the problem is metabolic Acidosis: loss of nonvolatile acid & gain of HCO3Alkalosis: excess H+ (kidneys unable to excrete) & HCO3- loss exceeds capacity of kidneys to regenerate

Acid-Base PCO2, TCO2 & PO2

If PCO2 is the primary disturbance, the

problem is respiratory; its a reflection of alveolar ventilation (lungs)

PCO2 increase: hypoventilation present PCO2 decrease: hyperventilation present

TCO2 refers to total CO2 content in the

blood, including CO2 present in HCO3

>70% of CO2 in the blood is in the form of HCO3PO2 also important in assessing respiratory function

Base Excess or Deficit:

Measures the level of all buffering

systems in the body hemoglobin, protein, phosphate & HCO3 The amount of fixed acid or base that must be added to a blood sample to reach a pH of 7.40 Its a measurement of HCO3- excess or deficit

Anion Gap:
The difference between plasma

concentration of Na+ & the sum of measured anions (Cl- & HCO3-) Representative of the concentration of unmeasured anions (phosphates, sulfates, organic acids & proteins) Anion gap of urine can also be measured via the cations Na+ & K+, & the anion Cl- to give an estimate of NH4+ excretion

Anion Gap
The anion gap is increased in conditions

such as lactic acidosis, and DKA that result from elevated levels of metabolic acids (metabolic acidosis)

A low anion gap occurs in conditions that cause a fall in unmeasured anions (primarily albumin) OR a rise in unmeasured cations A rise in unmeasured cations is seen in hyperkalemia, hypercalcemia, hypermagnesemia, lithium intoxication or multiple myeloma

Sodium Chloride-Bicarbonate Exchange System and pH:

The reabsorption of Na+ by the kidneys

requires an accompanying anion - 2 major anions in ECF are Cl- and HCO3 One way the kidneys regulate pH of ECF is by conserving or eliminating HCO3- ions in which a shuffle of anions is often necessary Cl- is the most abundant in the ECF & can substitute for HCO3- when such a shift is needed.

Acid-Base Interpretation Practice:

Please use the following key to interpret

the following ABG readings. Click on the blue boxes to reveal the answers Use the button to return to the key at any time Or use the Back to Key button at the bottom left of the screen

Acid-Base w/o Compensation:

Parameters: Metabolic Alkalosis Metabolic Acidosis pH PaCO2 Normal HCO3-


Respiratory Alkalosis Respiratory Acidosis


Interpretation Practice:
pH: 7.31 PaCO2: 48 HCO3-: 24 pH: 7.47 PaCO2 : 45 HCO3- : 33
Resp. Acidosis Right! Resp. Try Alkalosis Again

Try Again Metabolic Acidosis

Resp.Again Alkalosis Try Metabolic Alkalosis Right! Metabolic Acidosis Try Again

Back to Key

Interpretation Practice:
pH: 7.20
PaCO2: 36 HCO3-: 14 pH: 7.50 PaCO2 : 29

Try Again Metabolic Alkalosis Try Again Resp. Acidosis Metabolic Right! Acidosis
Try Again Metabolic Alkalosis Right! Resp. Alkalosis Resp. Acidosis Try Again

HCO3- -: 22

Back to Key

Acid-Base Fully Compensated:

Parameters: Metabolic Alkalosis Metabolic Acidosis pH Normal >7.40 Normal <7.40 PaCO2 HCO3-

Respiratory Alkalosis Respiratory Acidosis

Normal >7.40 Normal <7.40

Interpretation Practice:
pH: 7.36 PaCO2: 56 HCO3-: 31.4 pH: 7.43 PaCO2 : 32
Compensated Resp. Alkalosis Try Again Compensated Metabolic Acidosis Try Again

Right! Compensated Resp. Acidosis

Compensated Resp. Alkalosis Right! Compensated Metabolic Alkalosis Try Again

HCO3: 21

Try Again Compensated Metabolic Acidosis

Back to Key

Acid-Base Partially Compensated:

Parameters: Metabolic Alkalosis Metabolic Acidosis pH PaCO2 HCO3-

Respiratory Alkalosis Respiratory Acidosis

Interpretation Practice:
pH: 7.47
PaCO2: 49 HCO3-: 33.1 pH: 7.33 PaCO2 : 31
Partially Compensated Metabolic Alkalosis

Right! Partially Compensated Try Again Resp. Alkalosis Partially Compensated Metabolic Acidosis Try Again

Partially Compensated Metabolic Alkalosis Try Again Partially Compensated Try Again Resp. Acidosis

HCO3- : 16

Right! Metabolic Acidosis Partially Compensated

Back to Key

Case Study 1:
Mrs. D is admitted to the ICU. She has

missed her last 3 dialysis treatments. Her ABG reveals the following:

pH: 7.32 PaCO2: 32 HCO3-: 18

The pH is: Low, WNL = 7.35-7.45 The PaCO Low, WNL = 35-45mmHg 2 is: The HCO Low, WNL = 22-26mEq/L 3 is:

Assess the pH, PaCO2 & HCO3-. Are the

values high, low or WNL?

Case Study 1 Continued:

What is Mrs. Ds acid-base imbalance?
Partially Compensated Metabolic Acidosis Right!

Try Again Fully Compensated Resp. Acidosis

Remember the difference between full &

partial compensation. Go back & use the appropriate key if necessary.

Case Study 2:
Mr. M is a pt w/ chronic COPD. He is

admitted to your unit pre-operatively. His admission lab work is as follows:

pH: 7.35 PaCO2: 52 HCO3-: 50

The pH is: WNL = 7.35-7.45 The PaCO High, WNL = 35-45mmHg 2 is: The HCO High, WNL = 22-26mEq/L 3 is:

Assess the above labs. Are they

abnormal or WNL?

Case Study 2 Continued:

What is Mr. Ms acid-base disturbance?
Fully Compensated Metabolic Acidosis Try Again Fully Compensated Resp. Acidosis Right!

Think about appropriate interventions- if

the problem is metabolic, the respiratory system compensates & vice versa

Case Study 3:
Miss L is a 32 year old female admitted

w/ decreased LOC after c/o the worst HA of her life. She is lethargic, but arouseable; diagnosed w/ a SAH. Her ABG reads:

pH: 7.48 PaCO2: 32 HCO3-: 25

The is: High; WNL =pH 7.35-7.45 The PaCO Low; WNL = 35-45mmHg 2 is: The HCO High; WNL = 22-26mEq/L 3 is:

What is the significance of her ABG


Case Study 3 Continued:

What is Miss Ls imbalance?
Resp. Alkalosis Right!

Try Again Metabolic Alkalosis

Great Job! Youve reached the end of

the tutorial & I hope you found it helpful. Thank you!

REFERENCES: &utm_term=Acid+Base+Equilibrium&ask_return=Acid-Base+Balance. Retrieved 3/5/09. Porth, C.M. (2005). Pathophysiology Concepts of Altered Health States (7th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Retrieved 3/6/09. and Base.ppt#1. Retrieved 3/6/09. Retrieved 3/6/09. Retrieved 3/6/09.

REFERENCES in_maintaining_the_ph_of_our_body. Retrieved 3/10/09.

Alspach, J.G. (1998). American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Core Curriculum for Critical Care Nursing (5th ed.). Philadelphia: Saunders. Retrieved 4/14/09. Acid-Base Balance & Oxygenation Power Point. (2007). Milwaukee: Froedtert Lutheran Memorial Hospital Critical Care Class.